The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):


  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”


Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The mess in Ferguson, Mo.

It is clear that the media, at least initially, took sides in the Ferguson shooting that made it hard to decide properly what to think. To read the first reports I saw, Michael Brown was an angel, about to start college, shot down for no reason at all.

The first thing I found out that made a difference was when the name of the "college" was put in some story. It was no real college, but a for-profit institution that, I am sure, accepts anyone who can come up with the tuition money. But if it were just that, Michael Brown could at least be favorably viewed as someone trying as best he could to improve himself.

Then along came the news that he wasn't just walking from his apartment to his grandmother's; the last place he'd been was a convenience store, where he had just committed a robbery. Obviously, not such an angel as he'd been presented.

In fact the original story I had seen seemed to imply that it was Brown's friend who got into an altercation with the policeman, and Brown was an innocent victim. Later information puts the friend in a better light than Brown — it seems that when Brown robbed the store, he took some cigars and offered one to his friend, who declined, saying he was no thief. So I suspect that Brown, and not his friend, was the perpetrator of any act that the policeman might have seen as a provocation.

And would it be hard to fathom that a person who had just committed a robbery might act nervous in the presence of a policeman, even so nervous as to move in ways that the policeman might perceive as a threat?

All that said, it does seem that the policeman overreacted. At that point, he did not know about the robbery of the convenience store and all he knew was that these two young men were walking in the middle of the street. This hardly calls for a “shoot-to-kill” action. I am sure there were alternative procedures he could have taken, to protect himself from any perceived threat, without shooting Brown in the head.

Really, there is fault on both sides.

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